The Visit Through Darkness Into Light 01With none but Woodfall‘s Raphael Weinroth-Browne on cello and Heather Sita Black singing, The Visit‘s debut album, Through Darkness Into Light, seems an unlikely candidate for Angry Metal Guy. Classical chamber music is stylistically about as far as one can venture from bombastic metal sub-genres such as power. But avoid this duo at your own peril, as their rich atmosphere is utterly captivating and their dark neo-folk evokes the likes of Nebelung. Weinroth-Browne undertook session work with the sadly-defunct Woods of Ypres and it’s clear such experience bolstered his moody repertoire. It says something that my notes were littered with the use of “we” in the present tense – so invested, as I was, into the pair’s fantasy.

Through Darkness Into Light is quite stunning in its simplicity. There’s Weinroth-Browne on the cello. And Sita Black singing. And that’s it. Sure, there’s some studio witchcraft permitting layers of cello and vocals but we can give them that one. There’s no gimmicks nor anywhere to hide for either musician. There’s also no compromise in the execution of their stark vision. The record is desolate and cold but gradually progresses to a more ambiguous place where hope isn’t too far off. The Visit take you on a journey of moods where the technicalities of the music they’re producing scarcely seems relevant. It evokes a lonely struggle through a snowy landscape – perhaps in their native Canada – as indicated by the lovely cover art. “Without This Flesh” is dark and distant, and “Offering” ramps up the urgency as the storm hits. The storm abates by “Cast Off the Veil” and the listener is afforded some comfort, but “Through Darkness” is a reminder that you remain alone. Only on “Into Light” is there a sliver of hope and the record concludes on a freer note. The tumult is wonderfully liberating, with a mood not far from last year’s regrettably-omitted Empyrium.

Unsurprisingly, the musicianship is exemplary. Weinroth-Browne borders on virtuosic in his sophisticated craft. While the disturbing and aggressive passages may demonstrate his technical ability and speed, it’s the subtle integration and transitions into the smooth and airy which impress. It’s amazing that he’s able to be so captivating with just four strings and a bow. Sita Black is similarly gifted, proudly deploying a voice of rich depth and tangible emotion. She complements the cello perfectly, and is critical to the remarkably nuanced moods evoked. She reins in uplifting strings when required and emotes brilliantly. At times her echoing chants recall Myrkur. I even enjoy her frequent forays into wordless melodies, permitting escape from the veiled trappings of lyrics. Usually wordless vocals merely fill gaps, fit rhymes or afford hooks, which isn’t the case here.

Technically, there’s very little to criticize – the pair masterfully execute their vision and the instrumentation is great. That said, I somewhat object to the pacing around the fourth track, “Through Darkness.” After a preceding track which feels like it’s reaching further into the light and nearly escaping despair, “Through Darkness” reverts to an overall mood closer to the first half. I’ve no doubt this was intentional to reinforce their somber credentials by smothering the glimmers of light hinted at in “Cast Off the Veil,” but it throws off the album’s momentum just slightly.

The Visit Through Darkness Into Light 02

Additionally, as is intrinsic to the music’s constitution, you won’t find the tonal range and diversity one typically finds in metal, nor the melodic hooks. While this isn’t necessarily limiting, it curbs repeated complete listens. A wonderful record though this may be, I can’t help but crave something cheesy and catchy by the end of a run-through.

I read an article which posited that people whose personalities fit most strongly into the ‘openness to experience’ group – those who typically enjoy classical, jazz and metal – are the type to experience a greater emotional range in response to sad music. Further than what the majority merely identifies as ‘sadness,’ nostalgia, peacefulness and wonder are noted. Perhaps this is why metal is close to so many hearts (or at least Heartworks…), exposing labyrinthine emotions to the harsh light of day in a way which they aren’t in popular music. The greatest achievement of Through Darkness Into Light is how it effortlessly elicits such a range of subdued emotions beyond ‘sadness.’ The undemanding nature of the music places limitations on the number of consecutive listens I could manage without transferring to something more immediate, but this is an almost impossibly beautiful release. I hope it doesn’t fall on the deaf ears of those who scream “MOAR BLAST BEATS” into the pale, misty, trve mornings.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-release
Websites: thevisit.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/thevisit
Releases Worldwide: October 09th, 2015

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  • Whiskeyjack

    Wow this is awesome! thanks for the review, really enjoying this!….I can only think of one way to improve it…MOAR BLAST BEATS!!!

    • Pearls before swine.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      MOAR BLAST BEATS!!!

  • Right on the heels of Giant Squid’s very sad news, it seems like a fitting nod that out of the blue More Angry featured their review.

  • Levly

    This is quite beautiful, although I’m not sure I would sit through an entire record of that on a regular basis.
    But yes, Empyrium’s new record was one of the best surprise of last year, I really loved it, too bad it didn’t get reviewed. Maybe a “things you may have missed?

    • El_Cuervo

      I think it’s beyond TYMHM since it was released last year. But that record very much has my approval, easy 4.5 from me.

    • Wilhelm

      Agreed, that Empyrium album is pretty amazing; too bad it wasn’t distributed/promoted better, although I did read some negative reviews so I’m not sure it would grab everyone like it did for us.

    • Pimpolho

      I actually think it’s their worst record. Still really good, though, just not as much as their past work. Just like The Serpent and The Sphere for Agalloch. (Of course, that’s only my opinion.)

  • Kinda reminds me of Estatic Fear, especially their A Sombre Dance album.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Hmm. New to me. I’ll check it out.

      • It’s good stuff. Soothing but ominous.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Checked it out. Great stuff. Not sure the harsh vocals are really necessary. Also like that Empyrium El_Cuervo mentioned. Perfect Autumn music. Now I think I’m in the mood for some Bill Fay.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Someone told me that if you play them the right music the Dead Can Dance.

  • Ah yes, Dark Amish metal. I can almost hear ye olde blaste beates

  • dat doge

    impressive

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Reminds me of the good Apocalyptica tracks. In fact the main difference is that here the singer enhances the song, rather than making it suck.

    Good stuff. I love it when this website gives me more than metal.

    • El_Cuervo

      I dallied with referencing Apocalyptica but they’re much more bombastic and less subtle. I reckon the two are very far apart despite the obvious instrumental comparisons.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Yeah, you’re right about that, especially current Apocalyptica. The Apocalyptica of old (no drummer), however, has a lot of more subtle tracks and that’s where I was drawing my comparison from.

        Either way, this does have a lot more of a distinct neofolk feel.

        • Kronos

          Old Apocalyptica was pretty cool, before they had pop writers make their songs for them.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            Nowadays, you just have to assume that pretty much any song with a featured artist is going to suck. That is 50% of their new albums are automatically shit. The other half still ranges from decent to great, though.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Nice autumnal music. Black’s voice is impressive, especially on the track available on their bandcamp site (Through Darkness).

    The whole affair reminds me of one of my favourite, stripped-down recordings — Nordisk Sang with Kirsten Braten Berg (which I recommend if you like The Visit).

    EDIT: Oh, and speaking of Autumn, I see Panopticon”s Autumn Eternal is set for release on Oct. 16th.

    • El_Cuervo

      Fingers crossed for the promo copy to come through, Autumn Eternal (the song they’ve thus far released rather than the whole album) is amazing. It’s the same label as Nechochwen so hopefully we do get a copy…

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Lunn is one of a kind. His music has such an epic, joyful, life-affirming sound. Love the two tracks I’ve heard on the bandcamp site.

        • Meriyas

          I’m very much looking forward to the new Panopticon. I listened to Autumn Eternal the song yesterday and then just preordered the cd from the nordvis bandcamp straight away.

        • Meriyas

          Autumn Eternal dropped a bit over 3 hours ago. I haven’t listened to it all yet, but I love what I’ve heard. Into The North Woods and Pale Ghosts are great songs! Lunn has released another fantastic album.

      • I’ve heard Lunn is massively scaling back the amount of sites that get the album as compared to RTTN, since that one leaked. I tend to get stuff from Bindrune as well, but I haven’t seen anything yet.

  • Stefano Kevin Prince Vitali

    I have a huge soft spot for the whole neofolk / neoclassical / chamberpostwhatever genre, and a modicum of experience about it. So, if you like this kind of music, I strongly recommend you to give a listen to Musk Ox (Weinroth-Browne and the guy who played acoustic guitar on Agalloch’s last album), or Balmorhea. You won’t be disappointed

    About the record in question, the embedded track just has everything I crave for when I listen to neofolk. Props to the band, and props to AMG for its contribute in expanding the average metalhead’s sonic palette!

    • El_Cuervo

      Ye Musk Ox is cool. Last year’s release was good

    • Celaeno

      Thanks for the recs. Seriously enjoying these.

  • Kronos

    Wow, that’s the best cello playing/writing I’ve ever heard.

  • Innit Bartender

    Damn, two good albums in two days? What am I gonna do? My brain is shot.

  • Beardfist

    The embedded track reminded me what it was to feel again.

  • I thought this was a movie review for a second…

  • Christian P

    holy fucking shit….this is amazing

  • Elton Chagas

    I wasn’t expecting to hear this kind of music here, but FUCK: I loved it!

  • You wot m8?

    I can’t even describe how much I love this. A 3.5? Really? For shame, sir! For shame!

  • sir_c

    Through Darkness Into Light is quite stunning in its simplicity. There you have it. Your review in one sentence.

    Pretty fucking brilliant would have been my version.

  • pfk505

    Virtuosic is putting it mildly. Great album!

  • AnnieK13

    Wow – really liked what I heard. I may just have to pick this one up on bandcamp.

  • Col_Dax

    Late comment on this, cause I’ve been on vacation the last two weeks (without any internet) and I’m working up all the missed AMG reviews this evening (supported by a bottle of some tasty french red wine).
    But it has to be said: thanks, AMG, for being so open-minded to bring such great music to ones attention once in a while!! So unmetal in instrumentation, so metal in the deepest of its heart…